Organize Your Life

Learn how to live the simple life with our 10 steps to help you get back to basics, from Mission: Organization's Monica Ricci.

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You were born a simple being. You came into this world with nothing, but as you grew you began to attract more "stuff" and chaos into your life. But simplifying your life is not about self-deprivation; it's about consciously choosing to be satisfied with less and eliminating those things that take up your time, space and energy. Learn how to live the simple life with professional organizer, and Mission: Organization guest, Monica Ricci's 10 steps to help you get back to basics.

1. Identify what's causing chaos in your life.
Is it too many activities, too many "voluntary obligations," too many priorities, too much debt, toxic relationships, or too much clutter in your home or workplace? All these things can be raising your chaos level. The first step is to identify what adds chaos, which is not adding a significant amount of joy, happiness or value to your life.

2. Scale down your possessions.
Every thing you own, from three toothbrushes to four winter coats to the shoeboxes you're saving "just in case," takes something from you. It costs you time and energy because it all has to be maintained, stored, cleaned, moved or sorted at some point. Plus, it takes up physical and mental space.

Everything you own also owns a little piece of you, so now is the time to start parting with things that don't bring you joy or value. You will be giving yourself the gift of more energy and space, and if you donate your used possessions to charitable organizations, you will be helping those who need the things more than you.

3. Avoid impulse purchases.
Everything you bring into your home takes energy from you and space in your home. Evaluate carefully what you are buying and why. Visualize yourself bringing it home, finding a place to keep it, maintaining it and then selling it off at a garage sale in a few years for a fraction of what you paid for it. If you still want it, and can think of a real use for it, it is probably a valid purchase.

4. Turn off the television.
The average American watches in excess of 20 hours of television per week. Try turning it off one night a week to allow quiet time for yourself and/or your family. Don't worry: You can usually watch your favorite episodes online the day after they air — or TiVo it.

5. Cut your hair.
Sound silly? How much time, effort and aggravation is it to deal with your hair every day? If your hair is high maintenance, consider a new style that will take less time and effort.

6. Stop getting junk mail and phone calls.
Write the Direct Marketing Association and have your name removed from junk mail and phone lists. The cost is $1, and it makes a marked difference in the amount of unsolicited junk you receive. You can find the forms to contact the DMA at DMAchoice.org.

To remove yourself from prescreened credit card offers, visit the Consumer Credit Reporting Industry's official Opt-Out web site, OptOutPrescreen.com.

You can also sign up with the National Do Not Call Registry to avoid telemarketer calls.

7. Evaluate your time commitments.
Look at how much time and energy you spending on activities, organizations, clubs and social groups. Really evaluate how much value or joy they give you in relation to the time you invest. If you find that some have outlived the benefits of the activity, simply stop doing it — you'll have more time for the things you do enjoy.

8. Take a stand at the holidays.
Instead of dreading the holidays because of the stress they often bring, make a pact with yourself to change it. If it's the gift-giving tradition that causes you stress, one way to help is to make your own gifting policy.

Options include not giving gifts to anyone, and, in turn, not accepting gifts for yourself; buying gifts for needy children only; or creating spending limits per person. Whatever you decide, let your friends and family know well in advance of the holidays, and tell them that you'll be sticking to it. They may not believe it at first, but you will reap the rewards when you find yourself enjoying the holiday season again.

9. Stop spending time with toxic people.
This is a tough one, but well worth it. Refuse to spend your precious time and energy on those constantly negative people in your life. Life is short. Spend it with those who love, support, encourage and inspire you.

10. Ask for help.
Despite your efforts to simplify, things are bound to get crazy sometimes. When that happens, just ask for help. It's so easy, and the people in your life do want to help. It makes them feel needed and valued.

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